Terrifying Children’s Songs

Last night, we were driving in the van and a rendition of “Hush, Little Baby” came up on our CD. It sparked a conversation about children’s songs and the lyrics thereof. Have you ever noticed that there is a somewhat terrifying theme in some songs for kids?


“Hush, Little Baby” = “If You Stop Crying, I Will Buy You Things, Some of Which are Dangerous for Children or Choking Hazards”

“Rock-a-bye, Baby” = “Don’t Be Alarmed, But Your Crib is About to Plummet From a Treetop”

“Ring Around the Rosy” = “A Helpful Guide to Identifying Symptoms of the Black Plague”

“It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” = “Falling Asleep When You Have a Concussion: A Cautionary Tale” (this actually does have a sad story associated with it, read it here)

“Ladybird, Ladybird” (or “Ladybug, Ladybug”) = there’s really no need for an alternate title here. “Your house is on fire, Your children will burn”?! Really?!

“London Bridge” = “Poor Engineering Means You’re Going to Prison”

Any others?

14 thoughts on “Terrifying Children’s Songs

  1. I wrote a paper on this in high school: it’s basically the same thing as fairy tales, that these are a seemingly innocuous way of transmitting troubling information to children. (Some of which we may or may not agree with now.) Think of Red Riding Hood, as the classic example.At least we still have Mary’s Lamb, even if Tomie de Paola doesn’t believe it happened in Sterling!


  2. This reminded me of the day Emily was rocking her baby sister and singing Rockabye Baby to her, when she got to the “down will come baby line” and stopped and said-“Mom, that’s kind of scary for Kate. I think I’d better make up my own words.”And she did – something about floating gently in the breeze.This is a hilarious list and needs publicizing somewhere.Speaking of publicity, fame and fortune came to my own blog this morning. 🙂


  3. You are my sunshine…it’s just a sad, sad song. The second verse is even worse: “the other night dear, while I was sleeping, I dreamt I held you in my arms, when I awoke dear, I was mistaken and I hung my head and cried.”


  4. “Hickory Dickory Dock”…the very idea of a mouse running around on my furniture is creepy.Or how about “Jack and Jill”? Two kids falling down a hill and busting their heads open? Lovely.That was fun! Thanks for the eye opener. Lisa~


  5. Funny post. My favorite horrifying children’s song is “Alouette.” You know, the french song…”Alouette, gentille Alouette,Alouette, je te plumerai,Je te plumerai la tete,Je te plumerai la tete,Et la tete,Et la tete,Alouette, alouette,Ooooh, –“Yeah, it’s about plucking a bird, like in preparation for cooking it. “I’m going to pluck your head, your eyes, your neck…”Nice!


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